News, Sports

Spectacular Opening Ceremony Kicks Off 2014 Winter Olympics

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Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada’s Flag bearer proudly leads Team Canada into Fisht Stadium in Sochi. Image: Mike Ridewood/ COC
Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada’s Flag bearer proudly leads Team Canada into Fisht Stadium in Sochi. Image: Mike Ridewood/ COC

The eyes of the world are on Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are taking place.

Last Friday, the official opening ceremony took the audience on a Russian journey. It began with the Russian alphabet, with each of the 33 letters highlighting a famous Russian person or achievement.

Later, the athletes flooded into the stadium, grouped according to country. Canada, with 220 athletes, has one of the largest teams in this year’s winter Olympics. The Canadians came into the stadium, a sea of red, behind flag-bearer Hayley Wickenheiser (hockey).

“It’s an amazing feeling being able to carry the flag and lead in this awesome powerful Team Canada,” Hayley Wickenheiser told CBC News. “I’m a very, very proud Canadian right now. It’s great to be Canadian in moments like this; you realize how lucky we are to live where we live. I hope everyone back home is proud and enjoys the games.”

The CBC News reporter told Wickenheiser that many Canadian students have been sending their support to the athletes via Twitter and other social media.

One of the most popular teams to enter the stadium was the three-person Jamaican bobsled team. Jamaican bobsledders were the focus of a popular 1993 comedic movie, Cool Runnings, about an unlikely team from a warm country competing in a winter Olympic event.

The ceremony highlighted the famous Russian ballet, the country’s history including the Russian revolution and Russian art.

It featured more than 3,000 performers from dance, acrobatic and circus groups.

The ceremony also included the Olympic mascots: a leopard, a bear and a hare representing skiers, skaters and snowboarders.

At the end of the ceremony, the gigantic Olympic torch was lit by Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina and Russian Olympic hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, signalling the start of the athletic competition.

Even people who don’t normally enjoy watching sports will find something to inspire them during the Winter Olympics. Every athlete who competes at the Games is one of the best in the world at their sport. Each one has had to overcome many challenges and put in thousands of hours of hard work to be there, whether or not they win a medal.

During the Olympics, TeachingKidsNews.com will bring you some of the stories of the international athletes competing in the Games. Tomorrow’s story, for instance, is about two Canadian skiers who won gold and silver in their sport–and just happen to be sisters.

Related links
There are many ways to watch the Olympic Games on television or online. Remember that the teams and athletes that are highlighted will be the ones from the broadcaster’s country. For instance, if you are watching an American broadcast, you will likely see highlights of American athletes.
For Canadian coverage of the games, the CBC Sochi 2014 website is a good place for current information.
For American coverage, check out the NBC Olympics website.
For British coverage, check out the BBC’s Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics website.
To find out which network is covering the 2014 Olympics for your favourite country’s team, check out this Wikipedia list of Olympic broadcasters.

According to the npr website:
Sochi By The Numbers
• $51 billion budget (a record)
• 17 days of competition
• 6,000 athletes and team members
• 85 countries represented
• 98 medal events
• 8 new ski and snowboarding events
• First time in history women will compete for medals in the ski jump

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt: A fun puzzle
The Olympic ceremony started at exactly 8:14 p.m. Russia time. Many countries, including Russia, use a 24-hour clock. Using the 24-hour clock, can you think why the ceremony for the 2014 Olympic games would begin at precisely 8:14 p.m.? (If you’ve thought about it and you’re stumped: check out the answer, below.)

Reading Prompt: Point of View
The article explains the appeal of the Olympics for all people, even those who aren’t very interested in sports: “Even people who don’t normally enjoy watching sports will find something to inspire them during the Winter Olympics. Every athlete who competes at the Games is one of the best in the world their sport. Each one has had to overcome many challenges and put in thousands of hours of hard work to be there, whether or not they win a medal.”

Do you agree that the Olympics are interesting for all people? Do you watch the Olympics? Why or why not?

Junior
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Language Feature: Bullet Points
In the related links section of the article, take a look at the breakdown of the Sochi Winter Olympics by numbers. This information is presented using bullet points instead of using full sentences. Why do you think the journalist chose to write this information using bullet points?

Answer to our fun puzzle, above: 8:14 p.m., on the 24-hour clock, is 20:14. The kick-off for the 2014 Olympics began at precisely 20:14.